- Kelli Lynn Grey
Medical Marijuana in Georgia - Where We Are, and What To Expect in 2021
Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Policies are Promising but Limited, for Now
From decriminalizing cannabis in major cities like Atlanta to passing the Georgia’s Hope Act for medical cannabis, Georgia has been making major strides toward marijuana reform. If you’re ready to take advantage of all the state legally offers, obtaining a Georgia medical marijuana card is the first step, and Georgia Marijuana Card can help.
Our team brings expert knowledge and compassion to every stage of applying for a Georgia medical marijuana card. Meanwhile, our state licensed physicians are available to provide ongoing guidance about how medical marijuana can be used responsibly to enhance your health.
As Georgia laws continue to evolve, consider us your number one resource for understanding and maintaining the full advantages that a Georgia marijuana card offers.
For now, let’s take a look at medical marijuana in Georgia today, how it got there, and where it’s going.
Georgia Medical Marijuana Basics
Georgia’s current medical marijuana program allows qualifying patients and caregivers to possess up to 20 fluid ounces of cannabis oil. Per state law, the oil must contain no more than 5 percent delta 9 THC and no less than 5 percent CBD.
Having an official medical marijuana card offers Georgia’s medical marijuana patients a level of legal protection when it comes to possessing low-THC oil. Cardholders will also be able to purchase low-THC oil from licensed dispensaries as soon as those are established.
Finally, existing Georgia cardholders will be first in line to take advantage of future medical marijuana policies in Georgia.
From Moonshine to Mona Taft: Georgia’s Early Days of Marijuana Reform
Georgia and cannabis have a dynamic history.
Following the repeal of alcohol prohibition, many moonshiners and bootleggers turned to cannabis as another source of income. Some of these individuals also infiltrated their local criminal justice systems.
The most notorious of these is former moonshiner and Dawson County sheriff John David Davis. His bail was set at 3 million dollars after he was arrested for trafficking in 1984.
However, while Davis was busy spreading cannabis through Appalachia, Georgia resident Mona Taft almost brought medical marijuana mainstream.
Widowed after her husband died from cancer in 1980, Taft drafted a bill in favor of medical cannabis and lobbied hard for bi-partisan support. Her husband had suffered ongoing side effects from cancer treatment, and cannabis was his only relief.
Taft’s husband died within days of trying cannabis for this first time. However, the experience was so profound that Taft dedicated herself to helping make cannabis a standard part of cancer care.
Taft’s bill passed with a clear majority, and Georgia’s governor George Busbee even signed it into law.
This helped some medical research projects receive the backing they needed to investigate the potentially therapeutic role of cannabis in the treatment of cancer and glaucoma.
Unfortunately, no steps were taken to establish guidelines for formally becoming a medical marijuana patient, and the promising new law was swept aside during the unfolding war on drugs.
Haleigh’s Hope Starts a New Era: Slow Change from 2015 to Today
Almost 3 decades after Mona Taft lobbied for change, the family of 5-year-old Haleigh Cox approached Georgia State Representative Allen Peake seeking medical marijuana reform. They wanted to remain in Georgia but were considering moving to Colorado in order to access medical marijuana as a treatment for Haleigh’s seizure disorder.
After meeting Haleigh in person, Peake drafted House Bill 1, The Haleigh’s Hope Act, to legalize low-THC oil in Georgia. Governor Nathan Deal signed Haleigh’s Hope into law in April 2015. While most advocates viewed this as a victory, the truth is that the new bill’s focus only on low-THC oil makes it more restrictive than Mona Taft’s 1980 bill.
Additionally, provisions for cultivating cannabis and establishing legal cannabis oil dispensaries were struck from the bill, making it legal for qualifying patients to possess, but not purchase, cannabis oil.
Peake responded by shouldering the risk of transporting low-THC oil to Georgia from Colorado himself as he attempted to pass more expansive legislation.
In May 2017 and March 2018, governor Nathan Deal signed measures to add a total of eight more qualifying conditions to the existing medical marijuana legislation.
However, it took the next Georgia governor to finally authorize in-state cultivation, production, and sales of low-THC oil. This moment came on April 17, 2019, when Governor Brian Kemp signed into law House Bill 324, the Georgia’s Hope Act.
The Georgia’s Hope Act called for the immediate creation of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Coalition (GMCC). The GMCC has been actively developing licensing procedures since 2019. Applications for first and second tier cannabis production opened in November 2020 and closed on January 27, 2021.
The GMCC reported a positive response and is currently reviewing the applications prior to issuing licenses. Meanwhile, dispensary applications are in development.
What Does Legal Medical Marijuana Mean for the Citizens of Georgia?
Currently, Georgia’s medical marijuana program focuses on low-THC oil. Families and individuals who may have previously relocated to obtain this oil are able to safely possess and consume it within their Georgia homes.
While legally purchasing cannabis oil has been a problem in the past, the Georgia’s Hope Act has paved the way for dispensaries to legally dispense low-THC oil to registered patients.
This step forward increases treatment options and peace of mind for all Georgians living with qualifying conditions, which include:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Sickle cell disease
Autism spectrum disorder
Patient is in hospice program, either as inpatient or outpatient
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Any condition that has resulted in hospice care
Non-medical consumption of cannabis with over 0.3 percent THC is illegal throughout Georgia, yet the state’s city-by-city approach to decriminalization indicates the growing popularity and acceptance of cannabis.
So far, the Georgia cities of Clarkston, Atlanta, Savannah, South Fulton, Forest Park, Kingsland, Statesboro, and Chamblee, plus Macon-Bibb county, have decriminalized cannabis possession.
Card-carrying cannabis patients will be some of the first to benefit from future medical marijuana reform.
If you are uncertain of whether or not you qualify, check out our detailed guidelines and qualifying conditions. Meanwhile, the team at Georgia Marijuana Card is standing by, ready to answer all your questions and help you make informed decisions about your next step.
Medical Marijuana Possession Guidelines
How Much Medical Marijuana Can You Possess and Consume in Georgia?
According to the Haleigh’s Hope Act, qualifying patients can legally possess up to 20 ounces of low-THC cannabis oil at one time. The levels of THC within the oil must not exceed 5 percent.
Consuming any other form of medical marijuana is not currently legal in Georgia.
As a result, Georgia’s medical marijuana offerings are most accurately described as part of a medical cannabis program that offers marijuana-derived CBD oil, with higher levels of THC than can be found in commercially available, hemp-derived CBD products.
Can Georgia Caregivers also Possess Medical Marijuana?
Yes. Parents or legal guardians of adults or children who have qualifying medical conditions are eligible to apply for a medical marijuana card.
If more than one person is helping provide care for an individual with a qualifying condition, then all caregivers are eligible to apply.
Where Can I Purchase Medical Marijuana in Georgia?
The Georgia’s Hope Act established an official coalition to register dispensaries in Georgia.
While guidelines for licensure are still in development, we will keep you updated on the latest developments regarding dispensary locations, policies, and taxes.
The Path Forward for Medical Marijuana in Georgia
Medical marijuana reform in Georgia shows signs of slow, steady progress. Approximately 14 thousand individuals have registered for cards so far. Meanwhile, the next major steps to be taken by the official Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission (GMCC) include:
Evaluating applications to produce low-THC cannabis oil and granting licenses accordingly.
Completing licensing standards for dispensaries and then getting these facilities off the ground.
As of February 2021, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the GMCC received nearly 70 applications for production facilities. From these, a total of 6 will be approved to produce cannabis oil within facilities that offer a total of 400 thousand square feet of indoor growing space statewide.
The selected applicants will be announced by summer 2021 and will have one year to begin operations. Criteria for awarding licenses focuses on safety, efficiency, and inclusion.
According to The Georgia’s Hope Act, at least 20 percent of dispensaries and production facilities should be owned by minorities, women, or veterans.
Meanwhile, production facilities also must have solid plans in place for business operations, security and management, quality testing, and tracking products from seed-to-sale.
As Georgia’s existing medical marijuana program continues to take shape, a variety of grassroots groups throughout the state continue the important work of destigmatizing cannabis use in Georgia while pushing for more extensive cannabis reform.
Ready to Get Your Georgia Medical Marijuana Card?
If you or someone you know has been on the fence about whether to get their medical marijuana card in Georgia, now is an excellent time to sign up.
The card provides protection to those who already possess low-THC cannabis oil, and it ensures that you will be among the first to receive oil newly manufactured within the state. Registering as a medical marijuana patient also helps Georgia lawmakers better understand your needs.
Best of all, the process of joining Georgia’s registry and obtaining a medical card is simple. You don’t even have to enter a doctor’s office if you don’t want to. Georgia Marijuana Card offers telemedicine appointments that you can attend using your computer or your smartphone, from the comfort of your own home.
Give the team a call at 877-303-3117, or visit our website to learn more about whether you qualify for a card in the Peach State, and to schedule an appointment for your consultation.
Learn More About Medical Marijuana
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest in Georgia medical marijuana, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter, to join the conversation and show the medical marijuana community some love. The more you know about medical marijuana, the more secure you will feel in the decisions you make for your health, wellness, and symptom management. Check back often, and you’ll never miss a beat as dispensaries begin to open and more guidelines are put in place.
You deserve to have the relief you need, without worry of breaking the law, and Georgia Marijuana Card is here to help!